Eq: Total Market
It is not going to be a huge crash, but Morgan Stanley thinks US stocks will struggle in 2020. The bank thinks the US is clearly “late-cycle” and that its growth will wane from 2.3% to 1.8% next year. It believes the Dollar will weaken and stocks will struggle. The bank thinks most of the benefits of the Fed’s rate cuts have already been priced into the market. “In 2020, the economy will grow more slowly as the bulk of the positive lift from lower interest rates will have been absorbed and households balance higher income with higher prices from tariff”, says Morgan Stanley. The bank says emerging markets are likely to outperform.
FINSUM: Of all the forecasts we have seen lately, this one seems the most realistic. We don’t see a big bust coming, but a plateau seems very believable.
Hedge fund icon Ray Dalio delivered a grim speech yesterday at a gala dinner for the National Committee on US-China Relations. The investor is worried about war in all it forms. He said that “There is a trade war, there is a technology war, there is a geopolitical war, and there could be a capital war”. Famed former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger also spoke at the event and told both sides that they must avoid a shooting war at all costs, as no side can win.
FINSUM: Everyone on both sides will hopefully be somewhat relieved if a “phase one” trade deal can be reached.
Goodbye bearishness, hello risk-on. JP Morgan took a pivot from the rest of the Wall Street research machine today and took some bold steps in its allocation recommendations. The bank said that investors should take money out of gold and other risk averse assets, like government bonds, and put it into risk assets like stocks. The bank’s strategy team said “We maintain a significant and incrementally larger tilt in our model portfolio towards risky assets, based on signs of a cyclical recovery, easing geopolitical tensions, synchronized monetary easing, and defensive investor positioning across asset classes”.
FINSUM: The clouds do seem to be parting a bit, but there are still a lot of x factors—which is exactly the reason this could turn out to be a very good call.
Ray Dalio, one of the most famous hedge fund managers in the world, and the founder of the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater, says that the world has lost its mind. The eccentric hedge fund founder recently published a blog post entitled “The World Has Gone Mad and the System Is Broken” in which he argues that zero rates, weak returns, and growing inequality are leading to something bad. What exactly that “bad” was remained unclear.
FINSUM: We agree that these are issues, but we are pretty tired of vague doom and gloom prognostications. We like a highly specific catalyst for such forecasts.
In what comes as a very worrying announcement for investors, Goldman Sachs has just said that it may be time to cash out of equities. Goldman says that the current mass rotation out of equities and into bonds mirrors what happened before the Crisis. “Decelerating US economic growth, trade and geopolitical uncertainty, and near-record high starting equity allocations have likely contributed to the rotation from equities to bonds and cash this year”, says Goldman. Any steadiness in equities will probably just be artificial. “The peak in buyback activity arrived in 2018 after the Trump administration’s tax cut fueled a wave of repurchase programs. Buybacks are projected to fall 15% in 2019, and drop another 5% in the following year”, Goldman said.
FINSUM: In principle this seems like a sound assessment. The problem is that all the worries Goldman is citing have been on the table for a while and yet stocks have been rising.
Stocks are in an interesting place right now. They are at all-time highs, but at the very same time, there are fears over the economy and trade war. Bearishness seems to be at a peak alongside the market. So what does all of this mean? It means that this may be an ideal environment for the market to keep rising. For those who adhere to the idea that the market loves to climb a wall of worry, there is a perfect wall to climb right now. According to Bespoke Investment Group “When the public has viewed a new high in the market with skepticism (more bears than bulls), the S&P has seen gains over the next year every single time”.
FINSUM: We think the market outlook appears better than worse at the moment. Even if the economy continues to weaken, as long as it does so at a slow and predictable pace, we don’t think there will necessarily be a bear market.